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'2020 emerged as silver lining for online learning platforms'

Mrinal Mohit
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Mrinal Mohit

Highlights

EdTech firms scored big in terms of students’ enrollment for online classes

Edtech company, Byju's, is reinventing the concept of online tutoring and introducing innovative methods to engage with a wider set of audience. In 2020, edtech companies such as Byju's have scored big in terms of students' enrollment for online classes and e-learning process. "Online learning platform is here to stay. It bridges the digital gap among students from all economic backgrounds," Byju's Chief Operating Officer, Mrinal Mohit, tells Bizz Buzz

What has been the experience of Byju's on virtual classroom teaching since its inception almost a decade ago, and in 2020?

Since the launch of our flagship product, Byju's-The Learning App in August 2015, we have continually innovated in the K-12 learning segment by driving significant reach through our learning programmes. Powered by research, technology and rich pedagogy, we have built the intelligence to drive personalised learning journeys that suit the specific needs of every child. 2020 has been an inflection point for the edtech industry. With students across the country solely dependent on online learning platforms, we made our content free so that children across grades could continue learning in these challenging times. We also accelerated the launch of various product offerings to aid their 'learn at home' experiences. In more ways than one, 2020 has emerged as an inflection point for education and a silver lining for online learning platforms like Byju's.

As compared to the previous years, what was the enrollment/ registration trend at Byju's for students and teachers?

We are fortunate to be in a segment of positive relevance in times of crisis like this. Since the nationwide lockdown, we have seen over 30 million new students join our learning programme and, overall, we have now touched the lives of over 75 million students across 1700 cities on our platform. Earlier, students used to spend two to three days per week on our learning app but we are now witnessing them using the platform on a daily basis.

What upgradations were brought in by Byju's in 2020 to enhance the virtual learning experience?

From making the content on our app free for students to accelerating the launch of free live classes, the team at Byju's strived to address the learning challenges faced by students, real-time. We introduced history, civics and geography learning programmes for students in classes 6-8 and learning programmes in most of the major regional languages such as Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, Gujarati and Bengali to enable more and more students to learn from the app. Additionally, in June, we launched Byju's Classes - a complete after-school learning solution for students across the country, which offers classes from India's best teachers, instant doubt resolution and one-on-one dedicated mentoring. We still have a long way to go before we can bring about a real educational revolution in the country.

What were some of the challenges encountered by Byju's due to the unprecedented pandemic (Covid-19) and subsequent lockdown in the country?

We did face some challenges this year. Firstly, parents and teachers have been apprehensive about students learning from screens in the past. This scenario, however, is changing rapidly, with a big behavioral shift in the mindset of parents. Teachers, who were hesitant to use online learning tools, are now steadily adapting and becoming digitally empowered.

Secondly, digital divide is still a prevalent challenge and not all students have access to smartphones and smart devices. To combat this digital divide, we have started our social initiative 'Education for All' with the aim of making digital learning accessible to students in every corner of the country. As a part of this, we have also launched Byju's Give initiative to encourage citizens to donate their old or unused smart devices that will then be refurbished and powered with Byju's content and distributed to children with no access to online education.

As compared to the urban counterparts, what was the level of engagement with students from rural areas at Byju's?

We are enabling students in remote areas to access online learning through our proactive efforts. With learning programmes in regional languages such as Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, Gujarati and Bengali, we are working on going deeper into the regional market, beyond metro and Tier-I cities. Additionally, through our product offerings at Byju's, students are able to access our content regardless of bandwidth constraints. We have enabled access to our learning content on SD cards and even on lower bandwidths such as 2G and 3G networks.

Also, under our Give initiative, citizens are encouraged to donate their old or unused smart devices that will then be refurbished and powered with Byju's content and distributed to children with no access to online education.

What was the content delivery, online tutoring approach undertaken by Byju's for lockdown period and post-lockdown period?

During the lockdown period, we focused on the 'Learn from Home' segment in the country, a concept that enables students from across geographies and different social strata to get access to quality education from the comfort of their own homes. We have been innovating our content delivery formats.

While we have always helped students learn through our asynchronous learning app, we innovated to create a synchronous learning format for students at home. The idea behind this was to introduce scheduled learning for students and help them pace their learning journeys. Through the launch of scheduled live classes and Byju's Classes, a complete after-school tutoring platform where students can get access to scheduled lessons, instant doubt solving and dedicated mentors, we have taken our first step towards revolutionising the 'Learn from Home' segment in India.

Post the pandemic, we will continue to innovate and expand on our synchronous and asynchronous learning formats.

Since many schools are gearing up to reopen in the coming months, what are Byju'splans for 2021 on virtual tutoring and students' services?

While I don't expect learning to completely move online in 2021, I do believe that this initial momentum will continue to increase and I have a very optimistic outlook for the coming year. Technology will play a much bigger role in 2021, especially, within different learning formats for students, both inside and outside a classroom.

At Byju's, our vision is to be one of the largest education brands in the world. But our goal beyond numbers is to continue our focus on enjoying education and making students across the world fall in love with learning. From introducing courses in vernacular languages to launching more subjects, we will continue to strengthen our offerings and penetrate further into India to address the learning needs of all students. Given the current demand, we plan to accelerate several launches next year to revolutionise the after-school learning segment.

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